Fowles one of hoops most dominant players

Shhhhh… Can you keep a secret?

The word on the street is Sylvia Fowles is a pretty good basketball player. Most everyone knows that including LSU coach Pokey Chatman, Lady Tigers basketball fans as well as every coach in the nation.


But one thing, Fowles herself isn't quite aware of just how good she really is – and Chatman wants to keep it that way.


"I think her personality and demeanor helps her the most," Chatman said. "Sylvia has no idea that she is good of a player. I love that about her."


Fowles, a 6-6 sophomore center who was named the SEC player of the Week last week, is fifth in the SEC in scoring with 17.3 points per game and she ranks second in rebounding with 10.3 boards per contest.


Saturday versus No. 15 Minnesota, Fowles finished the game with 21 points and 13 rebounds, her ninth double-double in 13 games this season. However, things did not begin so swell for the Miami native.


A little over six minutes into the game, Fowles picked up her second personal foul of the game and was called to the bench for the rest of the first half. The next 13 and a half minutes wasn't so great for the Lady Tigers, who missed 16 straight shots and went almost 10 minutes without a field goal.


"I think it is so obvious she is such a dominant force inside," said LSU senior guard Scholanda Hoston. "When you lose her for any amount of time, it can be devastating to what we are trying to do. Ashley Thomas does a great job when Sylvia went out, but she had to move to the five and I moved to the four and we were both undersized."


When asked did she sense a change in her team when Fowles went to the bench, Chatman chuckled in response.


"The 16 shots in a row we missed. Yeah, I sensed it," Chatman said.


Sitting on the bench for such a long period of time, Fowles had a great deal to think about.


"My teammates and coaches talked to me about what I did wrong," Fowles said. "I wanted to be out there, but I knew my teammates could do the best they could do to get us where we needed to be."


Things swayed for the better when Fowles re-entered the game. In the second half, Fowles came up with 17 points and eight rebounds and she managed to go 9 of 14 fro the free throw line.


While her numbers were good, Chatman stresses what Fowles brings to the team that does not show up on the stat sheet.


"Sylvia is a presence in the middle," Chatman said. "She is going to garner a lot of attention. She is going to allow you to get a paint touch and two or three people are going to guard her, which allows Scholanda to get her feet set so she can hit that three."


One person who was not complaining about Fowles being out of the game was Minnesota coach Pam Borton, whose team led 23-19 at the break.


"Obviously it is a lot easier," Borton said of playing LSU with Fowles in foul trouble. "She makes a huge difference in the game. You can obviously tell when she is not in the game and when she is. She is just a big presence inside. It was a little easier for us to score in the paint when she was out."


This was Borton's second look at Fowles, who was a true freshman when LSU visited Minnesota a year ago and defeated the Lady Gophers 75-67 in Minneapolis. At that time, though, Fowles was not a starter.


"Really, with Sylvia not starting last year, it gave them a different look to start games. They are a stronger team this year with her starting in the post. I have seen some tapes where she never left the floor for 40 minutes. They are a much better team as far as that is concerned."


What a difference a year makes. Borton heaped praise on Fowles saying she could grow into one of the most dominant players ever to play the women's game.


"I think she is one, right now, but by the time she graduates, one of the best female basketball players to ever lay the game," Borton said. "I think her physical presence on the boards, having to defend her, with her standing in the paint on penetration and on help-side defense, I mean, she can get to so many places so quickly. She has almost a complete game. I think it will be fun to continue to watch her develop throughout her career."


But as for Chatman, the second year LSU coach would rather keep the hype reduced to a minimum while she can.


"All she is going to do is think about is that she sat on the bench in the first half because she went over the back and her second foul was because it was an offensive rebound and she should have snagged," Chatman said. "That is what I am going to keep telling her. That is why it will never go to her head."

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